I've got to admit, sensory testing sounds like some mythical market research approach. It's actually more straightforward than you might think!
Wondering what sensory testing is? How sensory testing is used? Or, what the benefits of sensory testing are? You have come to the right market research blog!
Utilize these best practices of sensory testing in product development research to successfully introduce your new product to the masses.
What is sensory testing?
Sensory testing is a type of market research study, similar to user experience (UX) and mystery shopping. However, sensory testing is often underutilized in product development research when compared to other common types of market research studies.
The goals and objectives of sensory testing market research are to understand consumers' perceptions of a product as well as their overall experience.
Sensory testing is commonly used in the food and beverage industry. Before a new product is introduced to the market, brands turn to sensory testing to ensure the product is ready to launch.
Conducting research is critical to the success of new products and services. Learn more about the two major phases in market research for new product development.
Sensory testing example
Let's take a look at an example of how sensory testing may be used in market research.
In recent years, there has been an upward trend of brands introducing low-carb snack options to their product line. For this sensory testing example, suppose a national snack company is planning on bringing a low-carb chip option to the market.
So, this national snack company hired a market research company to recruit individuals and test its new low-carb chip in the same environment such as a focus group facility.
After testing the new product, participants are asked a series of questions about their perceptions and satisfaction with the product. Question topics include packaging, labels, nutritional content, taste, smell, texture, etc.
Specifically, a moderator asks a range of questions to sensory testing participants such as:
How much do you like or dislike the overall appearance of these chips?
How would you describe the texture of these chips?
After sampling these chips, did you experience an aftertaste?
How is sensory testing used?
Sensory testing is typically used by a research and development team. This type of study is somewhat similar to in-home usage tests (IHUT).
The process for a sensory test includes:
- Recruiting participants based on desired criteria or demographics
- Scheduling individuals to participate in the sensory test
- Analyzing the sensory test results once completed
- Developing insights and findings to create a report based on the sensory test results
Sensory testing market research is typically completed during the research and development stage of a product. Again, the goal is to ensure customer satisfaction before entering the market.
Looking for specifics on what is an in-home usage test? We've got you covered.
What are the benefits of sensory testing?
The major benefit of sensory testing is using the data gathered to help a brand understand what changes need to be made, if any, before bringing the product to market. This helps the brand ensure success before selling their new food, beverage, etc. to a larger demographic.
Thinking back to our example above, suppose customers like the bag of the low-carb chips, but think it would be eye catching to feature net carbs on the front label. Or, suppose sensory testing participants suggest having a clear bag so consumers can see what the chips actually look like before purchasing them.
Other than aesthetics, feedback may also include taste, smell, or texture of the product as well! These changes could make or break the roll out of a new product.
By recruiting participants who best matched their target audience, the company was able to adjust their new brand of low-carb chips based off the feedback they received from the sensory testing research. As a result, their new low-carb chips is better perceived by the masses and resulted in an increase in sales.
Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. Our team has experience and knows best practices to design a successful market research study. Our motto is better data, better decisions, better strategy.
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